A Private Solution to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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A Private Solution to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

November 18, 2015

The political response to last Friday’s tragic terrorist attack in Paris has been woefully predictable.

President Obama has vowed renewed commitment to his current ISIS strategy – whatever that may be.

Republicans in Congress have railed against the President’s strategy and called for a stronger response – whatever that may be.

Governors and State legislatures have responded to public concern about Syrian refugees by taking vocal stands resisting refugees enter their states by any means at their disposal – whatever that may be.

While there is a great deal of moral indignation in the media – including among libertarian publications – about the response of these governors, this sort political posturing is inevitable. As long as America is a democratic country whose people lack any confidence in their government to accomplish simple tasks – much less separating good guys from bad guys – fear will drive public policy. After all, if Washington had demonstrated any competence in this area, maybe ISIS wouldn’t be quite so well armed.

While I find it much more useful to focus my outrage on America’s continued militarism in the Middle East than the predictable pandering of politicians, I did find a Huffington Post article on Syrian immigration quite interesting. It details the efforts of a coalition of humanitarian organizations that have appealed to President Obama to allow for private organizations and individuals to personally sponsor refugees.

As Omar Hossino of the Syrian American Council told HuffPo:

Every single day we get phone calls from Americans who want to privately sponsor a refugee. But since the private sponsorship is not legal, it's not an option, the government doesn't permit that, they're unable to do that.

The article goes on to outline the success Canada has had with its own private sponsorships program.

Private sponsorships in Canada have helped resettle more than 200,000 refugees since the program was created in 1979, according to the Canadian Council for Refugees. Groups there can sign on to sponsor refugees, typically with a commitment to provide for them for 12 months or until they become self-sufficient, if that happens first.

Of course this idea of immigration-by-invitation is a very libertarian concept.

In his paper The Case for Free Trade and Restricted Immigration, Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe touches on immigration-by-invitation when he outlines the inherent differences between the libertarian arguments for “free trade” and “open borders”:

For free in conjunction with trade then means trade by invitation of private households and firms only; and restricted trade does not mean protection of households and firms from uninvited goods or services, but invasion and abrogation of the right of private households and firms to extend or deny invitations to their own property. In contrast, free in conjunction with immigration does not mean immigration by invitation of individual households and firms, but unwanted invasion or forced integration; and restricted immigration actually means, or at least can mean, the protection of private households and firms from unwanted invasion and forced integration.

The ability for private organizations and individuals to personally sponsor refugees would create a framework for a policy of immigration-by-invitation. While such a solution is sure to not satisfy everyone, it at least offers a meaningful step forward and allows us to start detangling an incompetent Federal government from a complex and important humanitarian issue.

Unfortunately, there seems to be little hope that the Obama Administration will take this practical step.

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